Fat Biking at Kingdom Trails, VT

Saturday morning, Margaret and I braved the cold temperatures and drove from our rental on Lake Willoughby to Kingdom Trails in East Burke (~30 min drive). (Check out my post about what to wear fat biking in cold weather!) We got Margaret’s rental bike and started pedaling straight from the shop on Darling Hill.

The temperature was zero degrees F when we started, and about five minutes into our ride my gear shifters FROZE! I brought my bike into the shop to thaw out but as soon as we got back out they froze again. I was unable to change gears, but thankfully it was frozen in an easier gear. I just had to ride in one gear all day, which made things interesting. I think water got into the shifter on the ride up to VT since it was raining, and froze with the temperature drop (it went from ~50 degrees to zero in less than 24 hrs), even though I dried my bike as best as I could. With the huge temp drop, the trails at Kingdom packed up nicely and made for PERFECT riding conditions. The guys at the bike shop had said it was prime for fat biking, so we were stoked!

The bottom of Kitchel, one of the best trails at Kingdom due to its table jumps and huge berms. We rode it twice that weekend!

We took a break after a few hours of riding to warm up and have some hot drinks served at the Hub Trailside where we rented Margaret’s bike. Then we went back out to explore the other side of the trail system, opting to ride down River Walk, which was a BLAST.

Overall, we rode a little over 13 miles that day with lots of climbing.

Favorite trails of the day: Sugarhouse Run, Kitchel, River Walk

After our ride, we drove back to our rental to shower, change and find a place to get dinner. We decided on Parker Pie, a small pizza place a few towns over with delicious pizza and good beers on tap.

The next day we decided to ride the same route, minus one of the trails, Pines, that included lots of climbing. We debated on riding Troll Stroll down but decided against it since we didn’t have any suspension on our fat bikes. I rode this trail on my full-suspension enduro bike back in August, which was fun, but a lot different than a fat bike.

We opted to take the fun River Walk trail, which we rode the previous day. This weekend was Margaret’s first time on a fat bike and she killed it!

We also rode Kitchel again which was a blast.

I was pretty impressed we rode over 10 miles on our second day. The miles just seemed to fly by when we were out there!

At around 12 we decided to head back to the shop to warm up, change and get ready for the ~4 hr drive home. Kingdom Trails remains one of my favorite places to ride. It was the first place I ever rode a mountain bike (it was actually a fat bike). The trails are fun, flowy, fast and not to mention beautiful. I cannot wait until next time.

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Exploring the Northeast Kingdom of VT – Day 1

For MLK weekend, my friend Margaret and I decided we wanted to take a mini trip since we both had Monday off. I got Margaret into mountain biking this past fall (she even bought my old mountain bike after I upgraded mine!) and wanted to give fat biking a try! We decided a weekend of riding at Kingdom Trails would be awesome. We drove up to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont on Friday after work, grabbed a quick dinner at Madison Brewing in Bennington, drove through some immense fog and rain, finally arriving at our rental on Lake Willoughby in Westmore, VT.

Since it had rained all day on Friday, the trails were closed on Saturday. The temps had dropped and it was also snowing most of the day. Even though this derailed our riding plans a bit, we decided to make the most of it by exploring the Northeast Kingdom. Thankfully we had Margaret’s husband’s Subaru so we thought nothing of driving around in the ice and snow.

Our first stop was Wildflower Inn for a delicious breakfast and bottomless coffee.

Wildflower Inn is located right next to the bike shop where Margaret was renting her fat bike, The Hub, so after breakfast, we stopped by to confirm the rental.

Next up: Hill Farmstead Brewery! We drove about ~40 min from East Burke to Hill Farmstead. Apparently, a lot of others had the same idea. The route involved many hills on slippery back roads, so we were thankful for the Subaru–Thanks Jeff! We saw a Prius get stuck on a snowy hill and we were impressed when we saw they made it to Hill Farmstead!

The delicious Grassroots Brewing Convivial Suaréz

Next up: Kingdom Brewing! Located WAY up in Newport, VT not far from the Canadian border, Kingdom Brewing was a gem! They had some delicious beers, with a lot less hype than Hill Farmstead. The taproom was relaxing and quiet, and we each enjoyed a sampler.

There were great views from the brewery, too.

We stopped for some groceries on the way home and made delicious tacos at our rental before turning in for the night.

The view of Lake Willougby near our rental

We wanted to be rested for the following day’s adventures! Stay tuned…

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Guide to Layering for Winter Hiking

This post is a follow-up to last week’s post about What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather. Last year my friend Skyler and I hiked in the Catskills on a frigid day. I meant to use this graphic last winter but never got around do it. As I type, the wind is howling outside my window and the windchill is -10, so now is a good time as ever!

The key to staying warm during outdoor activities in the winter is layering. Base layers, or what you’re wearing against your skin are very important for retaining heat. A good base layer is made of either merino wool, which can be expensive, or a synthetic material, which is cheaper. I always wear a fleece-lined long-sleeve midweight base layer over the lightweight layer for extra warmth. On this particular day, I was wearing five total layers on top!

  1. Tank top (synthetic)
  2. Long sleeve base layer (merino)
  3. Mid-weight long sleeve (synthetic)
  4. Insulating down-tech fleece jacket (down-filled core with sweater fleece)
  5. Prima loft hooded jacket (lightweight, synthetic insulating outer layer)
  6. An optional sixth layer would be a shell, however, on this particular day, it was not wet enough to warrant a rain jacket or shell. However, I’d advise to always keep one in your pack during hikes!

On the bottom, you can layer similarly. I had on a mid-weight merino baselayer pant and my regular hiking pants on top of them. I also layered with a pair of synthetic sock-liners under a thick pair of wool socks, along with insulated winter hiking boots. A knit hat, a fleece neck warmer, and waterproof insulated gloves were also key! Hiking can be hard work, so being able to remove layers when you get too warm is important to help regulate temperature. You don’t ever want to be hiking in wet, sweaty clothes in cold temperatures.

As always, check the weather forecast before you head out. Also carry proper traction for your hike, such as microspikes, crampons, or snowshoes. Sometimes it’s best to bring all three, which can make a heavy pack!

Check out some of one of my other posts about winter hiking:

Adirondack Hiking Safety Tips

 

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Adventures with an Instant Pot

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas! If you haven’t heard, Instant Pots are all the rage right now. It is a 7-in-1 multi-cooker that acts as a slow cooker, saute pan, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and warmer.

It also has 14 smart built-in programs. With a touch of a button, you can set it to make Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Searing, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize & Pressure Cook. I have a slow cooker that I love using. But I think the IP will soon take it’s place because the IP is like a speedy version of a slow cooker! It can even cook frozen meats!

So far I’ve used my IP to make quinoa, a pot roast, and BBQ chicken chili, all of which came out delicious. Everything so far has been really easy, although I must admit at first I was a bit nervous about my IP exploding under pressure. However, there are many built-in safety features that prevent any mishaps.

To my surprise, these pots have a cult-like following. There are social media groups dedicated to them, one with 1 million+ members. To have this amount of support for a cooking method/product is comforting because whenever I am stumped on an IP issue, I just head to the internet. There are thousands of blogs and how-tos written about this thing, so it’s very easy to find what you’re looking for. The IP may be intimidating at first, but read the manual once and you will be a lot more comfortable the next time you use it.

Here are some posts I found helpful when learning about my IP.

Instant Pot 101 for Beginners: facebook group
10 Things to Know About Your Instant Pot
When to Use Quick Release or Natural Release
Skinny Taste Instant Pot Recipes

I have a feeling this contraption is going to change my cooking. As someone who hates meal prepping, I’m already finding the IP as an easy solution! Do you have an IP? Feel free to share some of your favorite tips and recipes down below!

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What to Wear Fat Biking in Cold Weather

Yesterday the high was about 8 degrees F. Despite the frigid temps, the sun was shining and I wanted to get outside. Many people think going out in this type of the weather is nuts, but if you have the proper clothing you can ride comfortably! The key is layers.

Here’s what I wore yesterday:
EMS Excel Thermo ½ Zip Hoodie 
EMS zip-up sweater fleece
Columbia Sportswear Voodoo Falls 590 Down Jacket – 550 Fill Power
Balaclava/face mask
Avalanche Mogul fleece-lined leggings
Pearl Izumi mountain biking shorts (over the tights)
Ski socks
Khombu insulated, waterproof boots w/ hand warmers inside the boots. Next time I would wear my hiking gaiters with my boots since the laces on my boots don’t go all the way up and snow can get in. Thankfully the snow wasn’t too deep yet so it wasn’t much of an issue.
Louis Garneau Bigwill Gloves -These gloves were probably the best investment out of all the above gear! They were expensive but totally worth it since they kept my hands warm the entire ride! I was really worried about my fingers freezing but they were toasty warm in these gloves.

I was also planning on wearing my riding glasses, but they were fogging up a lot so I ditched them. I usually have the same problem with ski goggles when wearing a face mask when skiing.

I rode for about an hour. The conditions at North Bethlehem are great for fat biking right now!

I have studded tires on my bike for the winter, however, they probably weren’t needed here. It was nice to have them, though!

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